SEWARD, Neb. – For the second outing in a row, Brittany Woolridge and Grace Bernhardt were masterful in the circle while leading the Concordia University softball team to a GPAC doubleheader sweep at Plum Creek Park on Monday (April 9). On an evening when temperatures hovered in the 30s, the Bulldogs stayed hot with victories by scores of 8-2 and 6-0 over visiting Briar Cliff.
Fifth-year head coach Todd LaVelle’s squad was coming off a pair of wins over Hastings in its most recent action. The four-game win streak moves Concordia to 15-12 overall and to 4-3 in conference play.
“I’m very proud of how the pitching staff has stayed the course and just continued to improve each and every day,” LaVelle said. “When you start getting a little confidence, these are the things that can happen. We have three great pitchers. We didn’t have to use Baily Clear tonight so she’s fresh for tomorrow. Both Brittany and Grace did an awesome job.”
A Tucson, Ariz., native, Woolridge has made herself comfortable on some chilly Nebraska evenings. Her latest performance saw her toss another complete game. Briar Cliff managed two runs on six hits and a walk. Her previous start against Hastings resulted in the first shutout of her career.
On this particular night, it was Bernhardt’s turn to blank an opponent. She got great plays behind her from the likes of shortstop Jamie Lefebure and center fielder Mackinsey Schmidt while firing a four-hit shutout. She struck out only one hitter but coaxed 10 groundouts and nine fly outs. Bernhardt’s 16th appearance of her freshman season turned out to be her best so far.
“I think a lot of it’s mindset,” Bernhardt said. “It’s just about being ready, preparing your mind and playing with everything you got.”
With the way Woolridge and Bernhardt were spinning the ball, the Bulldogs did not need a whole lot of offense. They broke open game one with a four-run third that included a Hhana Haro RBI double and Dalaney Nance two-run double. Concordia came up just short of enacting the eight-run rule in the sixth when it pushed a pair of runs across and left a runner on third base. Haro went 2-for-2 and reached base in all four of her plate appearances in the opener.
In game two, Allysia Thayer provided the game’s big blow with a two-run homer in the fourth. The Bulldogs then broke the game wide open with a three-run sixth. Lefebure drilled a two-run double and Haro smacked an RBI single through the right side.
The Bulldogs totaled 18 hits on the night. Nance and Haro collected two hits apiece in game one while Kenna Heath, Lefebure and Elanna Osthoff all had two hits in the second game. For the Chargers (4-19, 1-5 GPAC), Nicole Romero went 2-for-3 with a solo homer in game one.
A significant test awaits the Bulldogs on Tuesday (April 10) when they will journey to Sioux City, Iowa, to take on GPAC favorite Morningside (15-8, 3-1 GPAC) at 3 p.m. CT. Due to the rough spring weather conditions, the Mustangs have played only two games since March 22. They swept a doubleheader from Dakota Wesleyan on April 5.
“We look forward to that every year. We can’t wait to play them,” LaVelle said of Tuesday’s matchup. “It’s the next game on our schedule. We just need to get better every game. A lot of these girls are younger and they may not understand there’s a little bit of a rivalry between Morningside and us. We’re excited about getting in the vans in the morning and giving it our best shot.”